Home remodeling projects worth the money today

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sara Liming scrubs the walls of the Nagad School in Djibouti’s Atta Region on March 26, 2011.

Thanks to a slumping housing market, home renovation isn't as sure a thing to increase value as it once was. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/U.S. Army Africa/Flickr)

Remodeling to increase the value of a home has traditionally been a good idea. However, the housing market collapse has made big home renovation projects a calculated risk. In parts of the U.S. where the real estate market is more favorable, remodeling projects can still provide good value for the cost. SmartMoney has a few ideas about where to start if you’re looking to remodel your home.

Cooking up a tasteful kitchen remodel

Today, kitchen remodeling is a $12.6 billion industry. Since the lowest point of the housing bubble collapse in 2009, homeowners have spent an average of $27,300 on kitchen remodels, reports SmartMoney. That’s only 8 percent below the average cost at the height of the U.S. housing boom, says Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, but there are ways to economize.

As demand has decreased during the recession, some cabinet manufacturers have cut out surcharges for custom work, decorative finishes and highest-quality wood. Don’t be afraid to ask, as it could save you 20 to 30 percent. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for hand-painted tile, as there aren’t the kind of backlogs that would necessitate driving down prices. A major tip SmartMoney offers kitchen remodelers is not to source materials directly from manufacturers simply to save money. The potential for sizing error increases, which could force you to pay more for return shipping and repairs.

Clean up with a bathroom remodel

Even in a sluggish real estate market, studies indicate that bathroom remodelers recoup 53 percent of costs on average. Prices for high-quality granite have come down by as much as 50 percent since the housing boom years, in part because of increased competition from Asian and Brazilian rock quarries. Similarly, porcelain sinks are down in price by 50 percent because of increased Chinese import activity. Thus, high-end restroom remodeling projects aren’t out of the question.

A bathroom project that makes a lot of sense is a spa shower, suggests SmartMoney. With a shower tower kit, only one water hookup is required to deliver multiple streams of water. Just keep in mind that such kits aren’t adjustable, which can be a problem if people of different heights use the shower.

Backyard projects that sizzle

To target buyers who like backyard cookouts, there are remodeling projects that can increase your potential cash return at resell. Deluxe grills, pizza ovens, refrigerators, warming drawers, wine chillers and cabana roofs have sold well during the recession, says SmartMoney. Rising demand hasn’t affected the price much, experts say. Installation costs are down by as much as 20 percent because of the labor glut, and homeowners have found the recession has made it easier to haggle over landscaping costs.

A “hot tip” SmartMoney offers readers is to consider a gas fire pit instead of a masonry fireplace. Pits are often portable, which offers greater flexibility with décor. Not only that, but gas pits can cost thousands of dollars less.




Knowing when renovating your home is worth it


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